England manager Roy Hodgson has called on England fans to behave themselves in Dublin this weekend as the Three Lions return to Lansdowne Road for the first time since February 1995 – when riots started by a hooligan element forced the abandonment of the game inside half an hour.
David Kelly had put Jack Charlton's Boys in Green 1-0 ahead in the 21st minute and the trouble started when David Platt's equaliser six minutes later was correctly ruled out for offside. Members of a Neo-Nazi group, Combat 18, were located in the Upper West Stand of the stadium and they started throwing missiles and debris onto the pitch and into the lower stands in a premeditated attempt to start a riot.
This forced Dutch referee Dick Jol to call a halt to proceedings and take both sets of players off the pitch, prompting RTÉ's George Hamilton to tell all of those watching at home: “This is a disgrace. It is a scandal. It should never have happened and those people in the West Upper Stand who are throwing the missiles do not deserve to be here or indeed in any football stadium.”
The two teams would not face each other again until meeting in a friendly at Wembley Stadium in May 2013. 80,000 fans peacefully watched the two sides play out a 1-1 draw, with Shane Long putting Ireland ahead before Frank Lampard equalised for Hodgson's men.
The current England boss was in Ballsbridge in 1995 to witness first hand the carnage caused by Combat 18 that night, and he has called on travelling fans to prove that what happened in the past can truly be confined to the past by being on their best behaviour during the clash with Martin O'Neill's side on Sunday.
“I was at the game, it was a particularly bad time for English football and the behaviour of the English fans, and it was a bad time unfortunately for Ireland on the Irish mainland,” Hodgson told the media at the England pre-match press conference. “I'd like to think that in 20 years things have moved on considerably, things are considerably better on both fronts.
“And as far as we are concerned, and I'm sure Martin and his team, and I and my team [all agree], all we're interested in is one thing and one thing alone: playing a good game of football, using this game as the test we need it to be before we move on to important qualifiers a week later.”
Continue reading Roy Hodgson's thoughts on that game against Ireland in 1995 on Extratime.ie.